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Polaroid Now gives the classic instant camera a new look and lens

It's still analog, but just a little more automatic.

The camera is available in a range of colors.
Joshua Goldman/CNET
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This probably isn't the best time to announce a new product, let alone an analog instant camera. A camera that's almost entirely about being close to people and sharing experiences. But that's not stopping Polaroid from moving forward with its new Polaroid Now camera. 

I had a few days to test out the camera so I used it to document the quiet of what would normally be an active and lively park and then my family coping with being cooped up for days. The camera itself is designed to be easier to hold and shoot with, which is saying something for a point-and-shoot camera. Shooting with it simultaneously kept me in the moment while taking my mind off the circumstances around it. 

It's easier to hold and shoot with than you might expect.

Josh Goldman/CNET

The Now has a newly designed autofocus lens that will switch for portrait or distance photos. It also has a more accurate flash that adjusts for lighting conditions, for better low-light results. Plus, the self-timer button on the front can be used for double exposures. An LED counter on the back lets you know how many shots are left in the eight-print packs of the company's i-Type film

The body is less angular than the company's last two models, the OneStep Plus and OneStep 2, with curves that make it feel smaller and more comfortable. Polaroid says the battery life is better, too, lasting for up to 15 packs of film on a single charge. 

In its announcement for the Now, Polaroid invited its community "to join them online and take this time to reflect, inspire, create and connect." In the coming weeks it'll host an "evolving program of creative content and ask fans to suggest ideas and share Polaroid photographs to help inspire as, for the time being, we settle into this new "at home" reality."     

So I guess my initial feeling was wrong. Now seems as good of a time as any for an instant camera.

The Polaroid Now is available direct from the company's site for $100. The camera is available in black and white versions, as well as in Polaroid's five iconic rainbow colors of red, orange, yellow, green and blue for a limited time.